Quirky & Cute: The Style of Vintage Nesting Hen Candy Dishes by Decade

Colleen O'Morrow

Posted on September 22 2019

Cultivated Candle Co. antique candles and vintage candles

First it was the crazy cat lady, then it was the crazy plant lady and you know what we think is trending next? Crazy hen lady! Maybe it’s our fun craze at Cultivated Candle Co. for our Vintage Nesting Hen Candy Dish Candles or maybe it’s the trend in farm lifestyle, or even urban chickens. 

We knew some history about these quirky vintage candy dishes from our own research and some of your fun stories. Many of you have shared how these vintage nesting hens remind you of time with your grandparents. We’ve even heard something as intriguing as they were used as soup bowls at a restaurant here in Ohio in the 1960s. Best idea EVER! 

Anyways, we got inspired to do even more research on the Vintage Nesting Hen Candy Dishes.

First things first - Many of the vintage glass pieces we work with at Cultivated Candle Co. are from the Indiana Glass Company. The Indiana Glass Company was headquartered in Dunkirk, IN and produced glassware for around 100 years. It opened in 1907.

The Indiana Glass Company Factory in Dunkirk, IN. Photo Source. 

And, you guessed it! Many of our vintage nesting hen candy dishes are from the Indiana Glass Company. According to Glass Bottle Marks, some of the first vintage nesting hen candy dishes from the Indiana Glass Company were produced in the 1930s or 1940s. Upon reading this resource article from Glass Bottle Marks, we were able to snag one of these potential 1930s/1940s hens while antiquing in Ohio! These older hens have a basket-weave pattern on the base and were only made in clear glass or milk glass. 

vintage nesting hen candle

An example of the basket-weave pattern on a Cultivated Candle Co. Vintage Nesting Hen Candle. 

Another source, Dusty Old Thing, shares that “hen on nest” dishes stretch all the way back into the 18th century as an import to the U.S. from England. One thing is for sure: Americans have clearly always loved this dish. But this imported good was only for the wealthy at that time. When we jump back into the 20th century, these trinkets are being made in the United States. 

One important dating measure is size. The 7 inch candy dish we typically carry at Cultivated Candle Co. began production in the 1950s. So, we know that most of our vintage nesting hen candy dishes originate from mid-century. In the 1950s, the base also went through some style changes. The basket-weave transformed into a slight ripple-detailed patterning.

Another gorgeous change is introduced in the late 1950s and early 1960s: The beaded edge! The beaded edge added more detail to the base of the dish and this nesting hen staple is what we commonly hunt for at Cultivated Candle Co. 


Beaded edge on a vintage nesting hen candle

An example of the beaded edge on a Cultivated Candle Co. Vintage Nesting Hen Candle. 

As decorative changes were made with the beaded edge, funky new options were available as bold colors were representative of the time. Clear and milk glass hens continued to be produced, but things got colorful in the 1970s when tones of amber and green were mixed into production. Many other colors were made throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

According to Glass Bottle Marks, there are 20-35 color ranges for the vintage nesting hen candy dishes. At Cultivated Candle Co., we’ve had 14 variations! Twelve are represented below because two new variations are included in tonight’s Antique Candle Upload! 


Cultivated Candle Co. Antique Hen Candles

This article also suggests that some of the more rare kinds from our CCC collective past include yellow (most rare piece we’ve ever carried), green Carnival Glass, pink and blue carnival glass.

The vintage nesting hen candy dish is always something we will hunt for at CCC. Thanks for sharing a love of vintage, and quirky, items with us! We hope this article was a fun read and we thank Glass Bottle Marks and Dusty Old Thing for the hen insight.

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